Judge reverses decision, same-sex couple can keep foster child

Foster parents April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce are photographed Nov. 11, 2015, Salt Lake City. A judge who ordered that a baby be taken away from April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce, her lesbian foster parents and placed with a heterosexual couple should follow the law and not inject his personal beliefs into the matter, Utah's Republican governor said Thursday, Nov. 12. | Photo by Steve Griffin/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, St. George News

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah judge reversed his decision to take a baby away from her lesbian foster parents and place her with a heterosexual couple after the ruling led to widespread backlash.

Judge Scott Johansen signed an order, which was released Friday, that will allow the 9-month-old baby to stay with April Hoagland and Beckie Peirce, a married couple who live in the city of Price.

It comes after Johansen said in court Tuesday that the baby would be removed from the couple’s home. Utah officials and the couple filed court challenges demanding the judge rescind the order.

In his first decision, Johansen cited research that shows children do better when raised by heterosexual families. However, the American Psychological Association has said there’s no scientific basis that gay couples are unfit parents based on sexual orientation.

Messages left with Jim Hunnicutt, a lawyer for the couple, and the Utah Division of Child and Family Services seeking comments on the judge’s revised order were not immediately returned Friday.

Hoagland and Peirce are among a group of same-sex married couples who were allowed to become foster parents in Utah after last summer’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling that made gay marriage legal across the country. State officials don’t keep an exact count but estimate there are a dozen or more foster parents who are married same-sex couples.

A full transcript of Johansen’s initial ruling has not been made public and may not be because court records of cases involving foster children are kept private to protect the kids. Johansen is precluded by judicial rules from discussing pending cases, Utah courts spokeswoman Nancy Volmer has said.

The move to take the baby away generated widespread criticism, including from national gay rights groups and Utah Gov. Gary Herbert.

Herbert said Thursday that Johansen should follow the law and not inject his personal beliefs into the decision. Groups including the Anti-Defamation League, Human Rights Campaign and the American Civil Liberties Union called the order shocking, outrageous and unjust.

Story by BRADY McCOMBS, Associated Press

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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5 Comments

  • BIG GUY November 13, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    We are a nation of laws, like them or not.

  • 42214 November 13, 2015 at 1:50 pm

    That didn’t take long. Be interested to see if there is a judicial revue with sanctions for such a blatantly biased ruling. Another bad day for Mesaman and the zealot apologists.

  • ladybugavenger November 13, 2015 at 4:22 pm

    This judge needs to take his pension and run! You can’t have morals in this country anymore and be a judge.

  • .... November 13, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Another slap in the face for Mesaman and his Mormon ignorance…….Bite Me. !!!

  • wilbur November 13, 2015 at 8:05 pm

    Afraid of losing his job, probably.

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